Roberts gambles on new singles

Roberts gambles on new singles

Observer senior writer

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

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IT had been four years since OC Roberts did any recordings when he got a call from an old friend who encouraged him to resume his vocal career.

“Ansell Collins sey to mi: 'Why yuh sitting on dat voice?!' Wi been working together ever since,” Roberts told the Jamaica Observer.

Lie and Gambling With Our Lives are the latest collaborations by Roberts and Collins, a veteran musician best known for his work with The Revolutionaries at Channel One. The songs are co-produced for the singer's OCR Music label and distributed by Tuff Gong International.

Roberts, a 41-year resident of Detroit, also worked with Collins on Made in Jamaica, his debut album which was released last year by Tuff Gong International.

According to Roberts, he records songs constantly because, “I have a message; I've got so much things to say. Mi still looking for dat big hit chune.”

Some of those messages can be heard on Lie and Gambling With Our Lives. Lie rebukes lessons Roberts first heard as a boy in school like Columbus's 'discovery' of Jamaica; while Gambling takes a shot at world leaders and their mishandling of the Ebola and coronavirus crises.

Roberts, who grew up in Maverley, Kingston, sought a music career in the early 1970s, eager to emulate Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis and John Holt, his biggest influences. For several years he was lead singer for The Titans, resident band at Bohemia Club for which the drummer was Glen Washington.

Members of The Revolutionaries (Collins, drummer Sly Dunbar, bassist Ranchie McLean, and guitarist Rad Bryan) played on Roberts's cover of Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes's Wake up Everybody in 1975. Produced by Sonia Porringer, his version made reggae charts in the United Kingdom.

After a handful of follow-up singles Roberts moved to Detroit where he was lead singer for The Samaritans, a local reggae band that also had Washington on drums. For over 10 years he hosted Reggae Sound Blast, a weekly show on WDTR FM, a public radio station.

After that gig ended Roberts settled into a regular nine-to-five routine. Then came the call from Collins and he was lured once more to the recording booth.

“Mi cyaan get it outa mi system. Mi owe it to di Creator an' di people who mi come into di business with to show dat I have it,” he said.

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